BY CONSTANCE MADUAKO#
Recent events in the All Progressive Congress, APC in Imo State tend to point to a silent war between Governor Rochas Okorocha and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume. The duo are in a rat race for the 2019 governorship contest especially the governorship ticket of the APC of the State.The question is who then is having the upper hand in controlling the APC behemoth in the State?
Political analysts believe that whoever controls the party structure is just one step close to clinching the party ticket and eventually win the 2019 guber polls.
An objective analysis of the political situation in the party tend to unveil the fact the Okorocha is having the upper hand despite the stiff opposition he is encountering from Abuja based politicians in the party. Aside Senator Araraume who is wielding enormous influence and posing a fierce threat to Okorocha’s 2019 succession plans, other notable politicians in this group such as Senator Benjamin Uwajumuogu, Senator Osita Izunaso, Hon. Uche Onyeagocha, Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba are also firing on all cylinders and are in total opposition to Okorocha’s plans.
Hon.Onyeagocha, a former member of the House of Representaives had accused Okorocha of planning to have his son in law and Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu as his successor in 2019, a plan vehemently opposed by other political forces within the party.
However, this website investigation reveal that while the Abuja group are relying on the strength of their contacts and influence at the APC national headquarter in Abuja, Okorocha seems to have taken full control of the party structure at home.
The recent national delegate election in the party is an eye opener of the governor’s grip of the party structure as most of the national delegates are either members of his Rescue Mission and the Ugwumba movement.
The Ugwumba movement is alleged to be the political structure of Uche Nwosu oiling his alleged governorship ambition.
Also, the state party machinery appears to be in Rochas pocket as the party chairman Hillary Eke and members of the party executives are known to be his known loyalist. The local Government party chairmen are also loyal to the Governor’s camp except in Isiala Mbano and Ezinihitte Mbaise LGAs where Senator Araraume seems to have some control.
This could be the reason why the two LGA chairmen of the two local governments were chased out of APC State Working Committee meeting last month by the State party chairman. A vote of no confidence had been passed on the LGA Chairman from Isiala Mbano LGA, the home of Senator Araraume. That action later attracted the rage of the National Working Committee of the party in Abuja.
A party source said at the ward levels, party officials are checkmated by the Special Development Council, SDC who are said to do most of the functions of the party at the ward levels.
“Because at the ward level, loyalty of party leaders could switch. This is why the SDCs do some of the functions of the ward executives” the source said.
Members of the Imo State House of Assembly are also political foot-soldiers of the governor as they supervise and co- ordinate the activities of the party and that of the governor in the Local governments. They are said to have nominated some key officers into Uche Nwosu’s Ugwumba Movement.
In a bid to further penetrate the stronghold of Okorocha on the party structure, majority of the 305 youths who were given N1 Million under the guise of the Youth Empowerment Programme of the State government are mainly councillorship aspirants in the wards and nominated by members of the State House of Assembly.
This website further learnt that because the local government election may not be in sight despite Okorocha’s assurances that the polls will hold in October 2017, a “mock election” never known in democracy and in governance, was conducted by the Governor at the International Conference Centre, ICC within the week.
At the APC stakeholders meeting, the LGA Chairmen, Vice Chairmen and Secretary were “elected” through voice votes. It was revealed that all those who emerged are members of the Ugwumba movement- Nwosu’s political structure.
Before the mock election, the governor had also appointed “political arrowheads” in each of the three geo political zones of the state namely – Owerri, Okigwe and Orlu zones.
Chief Charles Amadi popularly called Chavon heads the Owerri front, while the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Acho Ihim holds forte in Okigwe zone. Unconfirmed reports said Uche Nwosu is in charge of Orlu Zone.These arrow heads synergize with other zonal chapters of the party in the State.
None of the Abuja politicians have such widespread political structure in the state within the party. Senator Araraume has his Destiny Organization, a political structure he has severally used in his previous governorship campaigns. How rooted the group is within the APC in the state is yet to be discerned.
Araraume is however backed by some aggrieved politicians who at one time or the other had scores to settle with Okorocha. Recently, he poached a former commissioner for Information, Vitalis Ajumbe who announced his support for the senator.
Uche Onyeagocha who is speculated to be eying the APC senatorial seat in Owerri zone merely came to the rescue of APC headquarters in some local governments in the zone by offsetting the cost of their unpaid rents. He is alleged to be a front for a prominent politician and top political office holder in Okorocha’s camp who is eying the governor’s seat in 2019. He runs a group called Imo Equity Movement, a group fiercely opposed to the governor’s sucession plans in 2019.
It was also gathered that most of the Abuja politicians in Imo APC are waiting for congress in the party which would hold by next year and this may lead to several alterations in their political calculations ahead of the 2019 polls.